The Dysenteries in the Armed Forces

Albert V. Hardy“Joint Dysentery Unit”, 64th Field Hospital, Far East Command

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Richard P. Mason“Joint Dysentery Unit”, 64th Field Hospital, Far East Command

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Gerald A. Martin“Joint Dysentery Unit”, 64th Field Hospital, Far East Command

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History abounds with examples of dysentery as a disease of wars. “No major military campaign has been free of its ravages” (Felsen). But it is one with which our medical and sanitation officers cannot become familiar in their civilian experiences. The filth-borne diseases are fast disappearing in this country and our young clinicians and public health workers, who predominate in the medical services of the Armed Forces, scarcely encounter cases of typhoid fever or dysentery during their training. There is even less opportunity for contact with epidemics of enteric infections. Certain aspects of an epidemic in Korea involving prisoners of war, will be considered here as illustrative of the peculiar nature of the problem of dysentery in the Armed Forces.

The most unusual feature of the epidemic was its size. An outbreak of enteric infections with 161 hospitalized cases with a fatality rate of 9 per cent, and some 800 milder nonhospitalized cases, would be regarded as a major epidemic.

Author Notes

Member, Commission on Enteric Infections, Armed Forces Epidemiological Board and Director, Bureau of Laboratories, Florida State Board of Health.

Colonel, M. C., and Director, 406th Medical General Laboratory, Tokyo.

Lieutenant, M. C., U. S. N., Fleet Epidemic Disease Control Unit, No. 1. Dr. Martin died in a plane accident in Japan in September, 1951.

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